Carolyn asked this question as we walked onto our fourth beach to collect another set of sand patty samples. Personally I think the sand was happy.
Yes sand can be happy. Don’t mock it!
And it had hundreds of thousands of reasons to be happy. Here’s a few off the top of my head.
-it was welcoming Rachel Shelby Carolyn and I to the gulf for our first ever sampling trip.
-The sand was overjoyed to see Helen White back for another round of tar ball collection.
-maybe it was welcoming the WHOI crew who are on their own field work expedition, visiting sites with us.
-maybe the beaches were proud of us for collecting samples from a record breaking 5 beaches on our first day.
-Or maybe the beaches just appreciated that our sampling work was removing sand patties–literally balls of sand and weathered oil that wash up with the surf, polluting beaches while offering physical evidence of the continued repercussions of the Deepwater Horizon spill three years later.
Any one of these would be sufficient to make me squeak. Maybe the sand was just as excited as we are to be here.
Or…maybe the sand was just so fine and hot that it was squeaking against itself as our feet applied pressure, as Helen said.
I still say the sand was happy but if you want to trust a PhD and your common sense over me, that’s your choice.
Expect a lot of updates tonight!
A “quick” edit:
So let me explain exactly where we are and what we are doing. The white lab has undertaken yet another expedition to the Gulf of Mexico to collect sand patties, the residue of oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill from a few years back. The team landed in Pensacola Florida and journeyed westward from there; the final destination is New Orleans and the team will take samples from an array of beaches along the way. Some beaches are ports and jetties while others are tourist traps and some are national parks on barrier islands. Leading the team is veteran explorer and patty identifier Helen White. Accompanying her is a rookie team of rising juniors (we have to earn our names) and postdoc Rachel Sinister. With determination and luck they will attempt to retrieve samples while combating sunburn, Mississippi drivers, and southern cuisine (so much butter). Next time: what goes into sampling and our names!